Ken Annakin (1914-2009)

I recently received this from John, who wrote :

“ Saw this and thought of you”.

John sent me this signed picture of Ken Annakin (1914-2009),  the legendary director of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). In 2009, shortly after his sad death,  I reproduced his obituary from The New York Times:

"Starting as a cameraman in Britain on training films for the Royal Air Force in World War II, Mr. Annakin went on to direct more than 40 feature films for the British screen and Hollywood.
His 1965 comedy about the early days of aviation, the full title of which is Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew From London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes, starred Stuart Whitman as an American flier racing for a prize awarded by a British newspaper. It intertwined romance, cheating and international conflicts with soaring flight scenes. It earned Mr. Annakin an Oscar nomination, with Jack Davis for best screenplay.

Comedies were Mr. Annakin’s specialty in his early directing days. One hit from those years was Miranda (1948), with Glynis Johns as a mermaid caught by a doctor on a fishing trip; her tail reappears whenever she gets wet. In 1948 and ’49 Mr. Annakin directed a series of films about a down-to-earth British family, the Huggetts.

One of the first live-action Disney movies was Mr. Annakin’s “Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men,” with Richard Todd as Robin Hood. Shot in England and released in the United States in 1952, it entered many more childhood memories when it was shown on television in 1955. Another Disney film directed by Mr. Annakin was the 1960 version of “Swiss Family Robinson,” with John Mills, Dorothy McGuire and James MacArthur.

Ken Annakin with Claudette Colbert at the premiere of Robin Hood

Some of Mr. Annakin’s work was more serious. In 1957 he directed “Across the Bridge,” in which Rod Steiger played a Wall Street swindler hiding in Mexico using the identity of a man he had murdered. Mr. Annakin’s daughter said “Across the Bridge” was her father’s favorite film.

In 1962 Mr. Annakin was one of the four directors of “The Longest Day,” the sprawling World War II epic about the invasion of Normandy. He directed the scenes involving British and French troops.

In 1965 he was the sole director of “Battle of the Bulge,” with Henry Fonda.
Among Mr. Annakin’s other directing credits are “The Biggest Bundle of Them All” (1968), a comedy heist movie set in Italy; “The Call of the Wild” (1972), starring Charlton Heston; and “The Pirate Movie” (1982), an adaptation of “The Pirates of Penzance” starring Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins.

Kenneth Cooper Annakin was born in Beverley, in Yorkshire, England, on Aug. 10, 1914. His daughter said he was an only child who left his parents as a teenager and never told her his parents’ names. Besides his daughter, he is survived by his wife of 49 years, the former Pauline Carter; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

After dropping out of school, Mr. Annakin traveled to Australia, New Zealand and the United States. He returned to England and sold insurance and cars, then joined the RAF.

In 2002 Queen Elizabeth named Mr. Annakin an officer of the Order of the British Empire.”

To read a lot more about Ken Annakin and his work for Walt Disney on The Story of Robin Hood, just click on the label here.

Production Memorabilia 3

Prop and Set-Dressing List

These are the final images available of the production notes for Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, made in England in 1951. The folder, containing many pages of fascinating detail has recently been sold at auction.

Above is a page from the Prop and Set-Dressing List, showing details from what appears to be the scene of King Richard’s departure for the Holy Land. Included with the main characters are 20 foresters, 15 bill or axe men, 2 acolytes with sensors, 15 crossbowmen etc.

Prop and set-dressing list

The next image (above) appears to be a continuation of the list, which includes, 21 bows for the bowmen, 15 crossbows, 15 quivers, a charger for King Richard and the Earl of Huntingdon, and the banner of England on a staff.

Patrick Barr (King Richard I) with some of the props

Robin Hood’s Costume

Above are details of Robin Hood’s costume, worn by Richard Todd who starred as the outlaw hero. Richard would have reached his 100th birthday last June.

Richard Todd as Robin Hood

Listed is his legendary bugle horn, green cloth hood, green cloth kirtle, short boots of soft brown basel and quiver and bow.

Short Bio on Richard Todd

On this page, we can view the short bio on Richard Todd. It describes how three years before his selection for the role by Disney, he had been an unknown repertory player. He had founded the Dundee Repertory Company and after his demobilisation from the Parachute Regiment he had been discovered in London by a director of Association British and given a contract. His first film was “ For Them That Trespass,” which so impressed the executives of the production company he was given the key role in “ The Hasty Heart,” alongside Ronald Reagan and Patricia Neal.

These glimpses of the production notes from the making of this wonderful film, have been a real treat. Many thanks to John Nelson for sending them in.

More Production Memorabilia from Robin Hood

Various costumes

This is my second post about a collection of production memorabilia, recently auctioned, from Walt Disney’s live action motion picture the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men. It was the last big-budget film to be made at Denham Studios in Buckinghamshire, England, in 1951. We have seen on this website, the amount of research into the making of this movie and this is yet another example of the Disney production crew's huge attention to detail.

Various props

If you click on the labels Behind the Camera and Film Production you will find many pages dedicated to the research and making of this Technicolor masterpiece. Down the years, I have posted about the discovery of the original script, also the unique short film The Riddle of Robin Hood, (which showed the creative process during the making of the movie) and even Disney’s memo about the choice of Maid Marian’s costume. There is so much on this website about this almost forgotten film.

The design of Nottingham Castle

Regular readers of this blog will have also seen my many articles about Carmen Dillon. She was the award winning head of Walt Disney’s Art and Design Department and these documents (above) would have definitely passed through her hands. So many thanks to John Nelson for making me aware of this fascinating collection. More soon.

Production Memorabilia of Robin Hood

Research Material for Robin Hood

I missed the auction! Although I could never have afforded the final figure of £250. It was for a collection of research material for Walt Disney’s live-action Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, which was made in England in 1951 and released in 1952.

A huge thank you to John Nelson for making me aware of this sale. It is a fantastic piece of - not only film memorabilia -  but also a remarkable glimpse into the research and preparation of this wonderful movie.

Some of the 30 pages of notes

Unfortunately some of the images are unclear and it it is difficult to read the notes in pencil. It is very frustrating. Perhaps the new owner of this goldmine of information, will read this blog post and share some of the detail!

Designs of medieval belt pouches

I will be posting some more images of this fascinating collection soon.

French Robin Hood Poster

Above is a French poster promoting Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men. This was kindly sent in by Christian Roy. The movie was released several times, so it is difficult to date, but Joan Rice’s ranking in the list of stars could reveal it was designed in the 1950’s.

In the side panel of this blog, you will see the label ‘ Posters’. Click on this and you will find a vast and considerably varied collection of art work from around the world, advertising this wonderful Disney film.

I expect many of my readers will have their favourite poster. The one above dates from the films first release in 1952 and remains the choice of Mike Giddens, Neil Vessey and myself. Which one is yours? Please let me know. 

The Sheriff and his Bow

The Sheriff of Nottingham (Peter Finch) 

We have often discussed on this blog, our hopes that one day we might get the chance to see scenes that were edited out of our favourite movie. The image above is a good example. It was kindly sent in by an avid collector of memorabilia from Disney’s Story of Robin Hood (and a regular visitor to this blog) - Christian Roy.

The movie still shows the Sheriff of Nottingham, played by Peter Finch, about to shoot an arrow. This was probably during the scene in which Robin Hood (Richard Todd) and Friar Tuck (James Hayter) are intercepted by the sheriff and his soldiers. But Robin’s band of outlaws appear and soon begin to rain down arrows on the Sheriff’s men.

In this dramatic scene in the movie, we never see the Sheriff pick up a long bow. It was probably one of many clips that eventually found there way onto the cutting room floor. But, a similar image (below) was used later in ‘Walt Disney's Robin Hood Stamp Book’    published in New York in 1955 by Simon and Schuster. 

The image used in the stamp album

Lets hope that one day we will get a chance to see some of the edited scenes from this wonderful movie.

A Signal Arrow Arrives

I have recently posted a still from Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952) showing the scene where the sheriff is led into the outlaws camp. Here is another detailed image of the camp,  created on one of the huge sound stages at Denham Studios by Disney’s art department. This time it shows the moment a whistling arrow arrives, warning Robin Hood (Richard Todd) and his men of imminent danger. 

Those of us who have seen this wonderful film, will know that Little John (James Robertson Justice) has been seen making his way through Sherwood Forest in search of Robin Hood and his men. Eventually Little John meets up with Robin and we witness their fight with quarter-staffs.

Robin Hood is pulled out the stream by Little John

In my opinion this legendry duel has never been bettered on the silver screen.

Robin and Marian

Richard Todd as Robin Hood and Joan Rice as Maid Marian

At this romantic time of year, I thought I would share one of my favourite stills from Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). It shows the young lovers Robin Hood (Richard Todd) and Maid Marian (Joan Rice) in one of the opening scenes of the film.

Several new versions of the legend are scheduled to reach the silver screen in the future, including another version by Disney called Nottingham & Hood. But I doubt it will match the sheer quality and magic of this Technicolor masterpiece.

The Sheriff in Robin’s Camp

Stills from the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men often reveal the wonderful attention to detail by Walt Disney’s art and design department, led by Carmen Dillon. It is hard to believe this scene, like many, were filmed on one of the huge sound stages at Denham Studios in Buckinghamshire.

In this image we see a blindfolded Sheriff (Peter Finch) being led into Robin Hood’s (Richard Todd) camp in Sherwood Forest.